Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Encounter with Rapids

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Rafting was in my wish list from a very long time. None of my plans to raft in Kali River, or Kaveri near Dubare, or Bhagirathi in Rishikesh etc.,had worked, But this time it was a great experience in Nepal. Myself and my sister were able to encounter the great rapids of the Trishuli river.

Rafting or white water rafting is a challenging recreational outdoor activity using an inflatable raft to navigate a river or other bodies of water. This is usually done on white water or different degrees of rough water, in order to thrill and excite the raft passengers. It is considered an extreme sport, as it can be dangerous.

Trishuli River originates from Gandaki river system and mixes with other rivers like Bheri River,  Marsyangdi River and Seti River as it flows ahead. It is widely acknowledged for its most culturally  stimulating and exciting river trips in the world. 

  All the rafting materials were arranged for drying, and this very sight gave a sense  of thrill to me and my sister.

During this meticulously organized river trip, you journey through the most scenic and secluded miles featuring incredibly blue water, breath-taking alpine scenery and amazing rapids cutting through some of the most varied geology. You also get to enjoy luxurious camps and wonderful off-river activities. Monsoon river rafting is the major attraction of Trisuli River. 

The water jumps, rolls, twists and turns as the raft flies,swings, and falls, thus  giving a burst of joy and thrill along with the heart rates fluctuating , and making our levels of our bravery decrease, but it is  a breath taking experience one has to feel. The adrenaline rush is experienced by everyone.



  Along with our guide :

His name is Mr.Dol , a very experienced and a very friendly person. He has over 15 years of experience as a guide in the white river rafting field. Incidentally he too was a photographer, as he used to shoot the rafting photographs for different companies/tour operators. 

Based on the toughness of the river, it is categorized into different grades.

Grade 1: Very small rough areas, might require slight maneuvering. (Skill Level: Very Basic)
Grade 2: Some rough water, maybe some rocks, might require some maneuvering. (Skill level: basic paddling skill)
Grade 3: Whitewater, small waves, maybe a small drop, but no considerable danger. May require significant maneuvering. (Skill level: experienced paddling skills)
Grade 4: Whitewater, medium waves, maybe rocks, maybe a considerable drop, sharp maneuvers may be needed. (Skill level: whitewater experience)
Grade 5: Whitewater, large waves, large volume, possibility of large rocks and hazards, possibility of a large drop, requires precise maneuvering. (Skill level: advanced whitewater experience)
Grade 6: Class 6 rapids are considered to be so dangerous that they are effectively unnavigable on a reliably safe basis. Rafters can expect to encounter substantial whitewater, huge waves, huge rocks and hazards, and/or substantial drops that will impart severe impacts beyond the structural capacities and impact ratings of almost all rafting equipment. Traversing a Class 6 rapid has a dramatically increased likelihood of ending in serious injury or death compared to lesser classes.  

In the midst of the rafting journey, we encountered a huge rock (around 40ft ), so Dol said that any of us could dive from that rock. Everyone were scared, but I was willing to dive, even though i did not know diving. So I just jumped, and others followed me.

The valleys and the forests near the course of the river is amazing, and some views are breath taking. 
(The neighboring villages are so lucky)

The team consists of 10 people. 9 + 1. 

In our team there were: 6 people from Saudi Arabia, 1 from Germany , 2 from India (we both) and 1 guide from Nepal.

There are numerous rapids and the main rapids are named below.

  •   Twin Rocks
  •   Ladies Delight
  •   Monsoon  
  •   Surprise
  •   Upset 1
  •   Upset 2
  •   Butterfly
  •   Landslide
  •   Bejuli 
These rapids are really beautiful to encounter with, but are breath-taking ones when the raft goes near it. The names are kept according to the nature of the rapid.

All these rapids, are really rapid. But the most terrifying and horrifying is the Upset-1 rapid. It is so powerful that the whole raft turns upside down, and everybody drowns. But luckily in our raft none of them drowned. 


How To Reach : 
There are many tour operators from both Kathmandu and Pokhara. Infact any of the travel agency in both the cities, will book a trip for you. 
This place is in between Kathmandu and Pokhara, somewhere near to Manakamna temple. It takes around 5 hours from Kathmandu or 5 hours from Pokhara, or 2 hours from Royal Chitwan National Park.
Our tour operator : Rainbow Tours and Travels , Thamel , Kathmandu
Contact person : Mr.Bharath Desai

Cost :
Rs.1100/- INR per person
This cost includes Transportation from and to Kathmandu/Pokhara, Rafting charges , guide charges , lunch.
But the cost does not include the breakfast. You have to eat on the way, where the bus stops near a restaurant.

Rafting time :
There are packages in this rafting trip
1. 1 day package : 
    Rafting Length   : 25 kms
    Time : almost 4 hours
2. 2 day package :
    Rafting length : 60-80kms approx    
    Time : 2 days

Rapid Class: III to IV , in monsoons it'll be IV+

You can take the camera along with you. When there are huge rapids, cameras have to be placed in a box which is in the raft.
For comfortableness, wear shorts instead of jeans, and also do not wear shoes. Carry extra pair of clothes. 

    Thank you

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

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Bhaktapur is an ancient town in the east corner of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. It is located in Bhaktapur District in the Bagmati Zone. It is the third largest city in Kathmandu valley and was once the capital of Nepal during the great Malla Kingdom until the second half of the 15th century.
Bhaktapur is listed as a World Heritage by UNESCO for its rich culture, temples, and wood, metal and stone artwork.

It is the home of traditional art and architecture, historical monuments and craft works, magnificent windows, pottery and weaving industries, excellent temples, beautiful ponds, rich local customs, culture, religion, festivals, musical mystic and so on.

Bhaktapur is a preserved ancient city, and a world to explore for tourists.
From a very long time it lay on the trade route between Tibet and India. This position on the main caravan route made the town rich and prosperous.

Bhaktapur is around 20 km east of Kathmandu and it occupies an area of around 119 km² at an altitude of 1,401 meters above sea-level. Bhaktapur district, in which the Bhaktapur city lies, is the smallest district of Nepal.

Bhaktapur Durbar Square is a mixture of pagoda and shikhara-style temples grouped around a fifty-five window palace of brick and wood. The square is one of the most beautiful architectural masterpieces  as it highlights the ancient arts of Nepal.

The golden sculptures of the kings perched on the top of stone monoliths, the guardian deities looking out from their sanctuaries, the wood carvings and windows were the best example of a proper planning, and classic place to rule which included a calm and quiet place suitable for meditation and education.

The main items of interest in the Durbar Square are:

The Lion Gate: Dating as far back as 1696 A.D., this gate is guarded on either side by two huge statues of lions. Alongside there are two stone images of Bhairava (the dreadful aspect of Shiva) and ugrachandi (the consort of Shiva in her fearful manifestation)

Lu Dhowka(The Golden Gate): Lu Dhowka(The Golden Gate) is said to be the most beautiful and richly moulded specimen of its kind in the entire world. The door is surmounted by a figure of the goddess Kali and Garuda (mythical man-bird) and attended by two heavenly nymphs.

The Palace of Fifty-five Windows:  This magnificent Palace was built during the reign of King Yaksha Malla in 1427 A.D., and was subsequently remodelled by King Bhupatindra Malla in the seventeenth century. Among the brick walls, with their gracious setting and sculptural design, is a balcony of fifty-five windows, considered to be a unique masterpiece of woodcarving.

Vatsala Temple: The stone temple of Vatsala Devi also called as Batsala Devi depicts many intricate carvings; however, it is most famous for its bronze bell, known to local residents as "the bell-of barking dogs," as when it is rung, all dogs in the vicinity begin barking and howling.

The Pashupati Temple: This temple is a replica of the famous temple by the Bagmati river in Kathmandu. 

Bhaktapur is also known as city of festivals and celebrations. They celebrate festivals each month starting from new year festival to the Holi puni festival at the end of the year.

Biska jatra(New year festival)
Mother's Day(Mathathirtha Aushi)
Buddha purnima (Buddha puni)
Kumar Khasti(SithiNakha)
Gathamaga charya
Gaijatra(Guni puni)
Father's day (Aushi)
Indra jatra (Pulukishi)
Tihar(Kija puja)
Sakima puni
Dhanya purnima (Yomari puni)
Maghe sankranti (Ghya chaku sankranti)
Shree panchami
Shiva ratri
Holi(Holi puni)

(source : Wikipedia)

The lack of traffic makes walking through Bhaktapur a pleasure and certainly more enjoyable than walking in Kathmandu. The town's cultural life is also vibrant, with centuries-old traditions of craftsmanship and strong communities of potters, woodcarvers and weavers.

Guidelines for Tourists :

1. Entrance cost is 100/- NPR
2. The city is very clean and less polluted. Please maintain this.
3. Bhaktapur , Patan and  Nagarkot are not covered in the local sightseeing trip. One has to go seperately at an extra cost. We stayed at Hotel Siddhartha in Thamel, Kathmandu . The Hotel manager had booked a package trip for the local sightseeing . This was a 2 day Package. On the first day, they cover  Pashupatinath, Bouddhanath , Buddha Nilakanta , Swayambhunath and Kathmandu Darbar square.  Bhaktapur , Patan and Nagarkot will be covered the next day (optional).

Thank You

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Bouddhanath and Buddha Nilakanta

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Bouddhanath :

Boudhanath  (also called Boudha, Bouddhanath or Baudhanath or the Khāsa Caitya) is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Kathmandu (Yambu), Nepal.Located about 11 km (6.8 mi) from the center and northeastern outskirts of Kathmandu, the stupa's massive mandala makes it one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal
The Buddhist stupa of Boudhanath dominates the skyline. 

The ancient Stupa is one of the largest in the world. The influx of large populations of refugees from Tibet has seen the construction of over 50 Tibetan Gompas (Monasteries) around Boudhanath.

As of 1979, Boudhanath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Along with Swayambhunath, it is one of the most popular tourist sites in the Kathmandu area.

The Stupa is on the ancient trade route from Tibet which enters the Kathmandu Valley by the village of Sankhu in the northeast corner, passes by Boudnath Stupa to the ancient and smaller stupa of Cā-bahī (often called 'Little Boudnath'). It then turns directly south, heading over the Bagmati river to Patan - thus bypassing the main city of Kathmandu (which was a later foundation).Tibetan merchants have rested and offered prayers here for many centuries. When refugees entered Nepal from Tibet in the 1950s, many decided to live around Bouddhanath. The Stupa is said to entomb the remains of Kassapa Buddha.

The Gopālarājavaṃśāvalī says Boudhhanath was founded by the Nepalese Licchavi king Śivadeva (c. 590-604 CE); though other Nepalese chronicles date it to the reign of King Mānadeva (464-505 CE). 

Tibetan sources claim a mound on the site was excavated in the late 15th or early 16th century and the bones of king Aṃshuvarmā 605-621 were discovered there.
The kunkum between the eyes, is the kutastha chaintanya or " Eye of super consciousness "

However, the Tibetan emperor, Trisong Detsän (r. 755 to 797) is also traditionally associated with the construction of the Boudhanath Stupa.Yolmo Ngagchang Sakya Zangpo from Helambu resurrected Boudhanath.

   Buddham Saranam Gacchami
   Sangham Saranam Gacchami
    Dharmam Saranam Gacchami

Buddha Nilakanta :

Located here is a Deity of Lord Vishnu, Vishnu (Narayan) , lying on Ananta Sesa, in the cosmic ocean. The Deity is over 1,000 years old. Lord Vishnu is about 5m (17 ft) long and is lying in a 13m (43 ft) long tank, as if floating, with his legs crossed. His four hands hold the four symbols of Vishnu: the chakra (disc), club, and conch-shell and lotus flower.

Budhanilkantha literally means “old blue-throat.” Ananta has 11-hooded heads. It is believed that the deity was carved in the 7th or 8th century during the Licchavi period.  The main festival of the year is when Lord Vishnu, who sleeps on the cosmic ocean during Caturmasya period wakes up on the Haribondhini Ekadashi day in late October or early November.

Many thousands of people come on this day. Three other images of Lord Vishnu were carved at the same time. One is here at Budhanilkantha and is considered the most important and original, one is at Balaju Gardens, and one is at the old Royal Palace in Kathmandu, but can not be viewed by tourist.

The deity of Budhanilkantha was lost for a while and was later rediscovered by a farmer. It is believed that the farmers struck the buried deity with his plough and that blood came out from the ground.
Nilakanta was the name of the farmer, and that is how the name came to the place.

Om Namo Narayanaya
Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


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Swayambhunath (Devnagari: स्वयम्भूनाथ स्तुप; sometimes romanized Swoyambhunath) is an ancient religious complex atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley, west of Kathmandu city. It is also known as the Monkey Temple as there are holy monkeys living in the north-west parts of the temple.

The Tibetan name for the site means 'Sublime Trees', for the many varieties of trees found on the hill.

For the Buddhist Newars in whose mythological history and origin myth as well as day-to-day religious practice, Swayambhunath occupies a central position, it is probably the most sacred among Buddhist pilgrimage sites. For Tibetans and followers of Tibetan Buddhism, it second only to Boudhanath.

The Swayambhunath complex consists of a stupa, a variety of shrines and temples, some dating back to the Licchavi period. A Tibetan monastery, museum and library are more recent additions.

The stupa has Buddha's eyes and eyebrows painted on. Between them, there is something painted which looks like the nose - but is the Nepali symbol of 'unity', in the main Nepali language dialect.There are also shops, restaurants and hostels. The site has two access points: a long stairway, claimed to have 365 steps, leading directly to the main platform of the temple, which is from the top of the hill to the east; and a car road around the hill from the south leading to the southwest entrance.

Much of Swayambhunath's iconography comes from the Vajrayana tradition of Newar Buddhism. However, the complex is also an important site for Buddhists of many schools, and is also revered by Hindus.

According to Swayambhu Purana, the entire valley was once filled with an enormous lake, out of which grew a lotus. The valley came to be known as Swayambhu, meaning "Self-Created." The name comes from an eternal self-existent flame (swayaṃbhu) over which a stupa was later built.

Swayambhunath is also known as the Monkey Temple as there are holy monkeys living in the north-west parts of the temple. They are holy because Manjushree, the bodhisattva of wisdom and learning was raising the hill which the Swayambhunath Temple stands on. He was supposed to leave his hair short but he made it grow long and head lice grew. It is said that the head lice transformed into these monkeys.

The Bodhisatva Manjushri had a vision of the lotus at Swayambhu and traveled there to worship it. Seeing that the valley can be good settlement and to make the site more accessible to human pilgrims, Manjushri cut a gorge at Chovar. The water drained out of the lake, leaving the valley in which Kathmandu now lies. The lotus was transformed into a hill and the flower become the Swayambhunath stupa.

History :
Swayambhunath, is among the oldest religious sites in Nepal. According to the Gopālarājavaṃśāvalī Swayambhunath was founded by the great-grandfather of King Mānadeva (464-505 CE), King Vṛsadeva, about the beginning of the 5th century CE. This seems to be confirmed by a damaged stone inscription found at the site, which indicates that King Mānadeva ordered work done in 640 CE.

Although the site is considered Buddhist, the place is revered by both Buddhists and Hindus. Numerous king Hindu followers are known to have paid their homage to the temple, including Pratap Malla, the powerful king of Kathmandu, who is responsible for the construction of the eastern stairway in the 17th century.

The stupa consists of a dome at the base, above which is a cubical structure painted with eyes of Buddha looking in all four directions with the word "unity" in the main Nepali dialect between them. There are pentagonal Toran present above each of the four sides with statues engraved in them. Behind and above the torana there are thirteen tiers. Above all the tiers there is a small space above which the Gajur is present.

The dome at the base represents the entire world. When a person awakes (represented by eyes of wisdom and compassion) from the bonds of the world, the person reaches the state of enlightenment. The thirteen pinnacles on the top symbolize that sentient beings have to go through the thirteen stages of spiritual realizations to reach enlightenment or Buddhahood.
There is a large pair of eyes on each of the four sides of the main stupa which represent Wisdom and Compassion. Above each pair of eyes is another eye, the third eye. It is said that when Buddha preaches, cosmic rays emanate from the third eye which act as messages to heavenly beings, so that those interested can come down to earth to listen to the Buddha. The hellish beings and beings below the human realm cannot come to earth to listen to the Buddha's teaching, however, the cosmic rays relieve their suffering when Buddha preaches.

There is a beautiful monastery near the stupa , which contains an amazing statue of Lord Buddha.

The Kathmandu Valley located in Nepal, lies at the crossroads of ancient civilizations of Asia, and has at least 130 important monuments, including several places of pilgrimage for the Hindus and the Buddhists. There are seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites within this valley. Historically, only the Kathmandu Valley was referred to as "Nepal" by people who lived outside the valley. After the annexation of the valley by the Gorkha kingdom, and subsequent conversion of the valley as the capital of their empire, this designation of "Nepal" was extended to every land they conquered. The valley itself was referred to as "Nepal Proper" by British historians.

Tips for tourists :

1. This place is quite far from the city. So it is better to arrange a private vehicle. Or the best thing is to go via package tourist vehicles for a local city sight seeing.
2. Entry fee is Rs. 50/- NPR
3. Many shopping articles are available inside the premises.
4. The beautiful statue of Lord Buddha at the top, near the stupa is worth seeing.
5. Approaching the stupa is by 2 ways : One is via climbing the steps. Second way is to go till the base by the vehicle itself,  From there its a short climb .
6. There are many monkeys, so be careful.

  Buddham Saranam Gacchami
Sangam Saranam Gacchami
   Dharmam Saranam Gacchami

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